Nanotechnology in Food and Food Contact Products Discussed at Society of Toxicology Conference

Toxicologists are presenting information on the uses of nanotechnology in food and food packaging and the current efforts to assure the safe development of the technology today at the Society of Toxicology (SOT) 53rd Annual Meeting and ToxExpo in Phoenix, Ariz.

A number of food-related products in commerce or in development contain intentionally added substances in the “nanoscale” size range (0.1 nm to around 100 nanometers). Nanoparticles in food-related products can potentially improve the delivery of nutrients, enhance flavors, preserve food quality, provide antimicrobial properties, and increase product shelf life. In the last decade, because of their use in personal care products and manufacturing, researchers have evaluated the health effects of nanomaterials when they come into contact with human skin or are inhaled. Less research has been conducted to evaluate any potential health effects when nanomaterials are ingested.

“Engineered nanomaterials can have chemical, physical, and biological properties that may differ from those of their larger counterparts,” say Annette B. Santamaria, PhD, MPH, DABT, Exponent Corporation, and Christie M. Sayes, PhD, Research Triangle Institute International, co-chairs of the SOT workshop entitled, “Addressing Uncertainties of the Toxicology of Nanomaterials in Food and Food Contact Products.” “There is striking evidence that nanomaterials add a lot of value to consumer goods, but we also need to understand if there are any potential unintended consequences of their use.”

During today’s session, toxicological experts studying nanomaterials are discussing:

  • The current state of the use of nanomaterials in food and food packaging, as presented by Dr. Santamaria.
  • Nanomaterial safety assessment research underway at the US Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition and National Center for Toxicological Research, as well as how the FDA’s draft guidance on food-related products does or does not apply to nanotechnology, as presented by Scott Thurmond, PhD, US FDA.
  • The difficulty of measuring nanomaterials in food and the results from the NanoRelease project, which brought together more than 70 experts to define what “nano” in food means for understanding risk and what tests are needed on these nanomaterials, as presented by Richard Canady, PhD, ILSI Research Foundation.
  • What happens to nanomaterials once they are ingested, including how they are absorbed, where they go, and how they might affect the gastrointestinal system and the rest of the body, as presented by Stephen M. Roberts, PhD, University of Florida.
  • Results from a novel test method that uses a 3-cell gut model to do in vitro examinations of nanoparticle toxicological effects, as presented by Dr. Sayes.

To speak with a topic expert from the “Addressing Uncertainties of the Toxicology of Nanomaterials in Food and Food Contact Products” session, please contact the Society of Toxicology.


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